After my trip to Manila in the summer, I firmly promised myself that I would not, under any circumstances, waste any more of my vacation days in a crowded capital city in South East Asia. I laid out my mental plan simply, and clearly: head to the beach.
Of course, I should have counted on the fact that every time I say never, I get smacked in the face by Karma, which is how I ended up spending two nights in Denpasar, Bali.
I met my friend at the airport, ready to head to the nearest fun place - I was imagining that we would spend the night in Kuta, or Ubud (both cities figured in my mental vacation plan). But when I saw her, she was weezing and rasping, eyes puffed closed and shoulders hunched over. She had come to pick me up from the airport, gripped with bronchitis and was in no condition to gallivant off anywhere, so we stayed.
My initial impression of Denpasar was that it was a lot like Manila - too crowded, too hectic, too dirty. But I had to revise my opinion after walking around the next day. Yes, Denpasar is crowded and frantic, but it is charming as well. The city, like the rest of the island, is infused with a rich religious culture, evident in the statues of gods on and in every building, the demons carved onto the roofs (which are actually quite terrifying if you happen to see them at night), the smell of incense and the abundance of offerings made up banana leaf baskets, filled with marigolds and rice.
Like Manila though, it can be hard to find people who will treat you fairly, so if you plan to visit this city, expect that people will try to hustle you out of your money with a smile on their face, lying about being your friend and giving you a good price. And yes, there's a story behind that statement...
For more posts on Denpasar, click here.